German MPs call on teachers’ union to denounce anti-Semitic BDS campaign

The 1,200 Education and Science Workers’ Union (GEW) in Oldenburg has been engulfed in an anti-Israel scandal this week because of its publication of an article calling for a total boycott of Israel.

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September 8, 2016 16:47
3 minute read.
Boycott Israel sign

Boycott Israel sign. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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BERLIN: German politicians from the Green and the Social Democratic parties urged the Oldenburg teachers’ union to condemn the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting the Jewish state.

"I expect that the GEW Oldenburg will follow its federal union and condemn BDS as anti-Semitic. Everything else would be unacceptable,“ Volker Beck, the Green Party MP, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

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The 1,200 Education and Science Workers’ Union (GEW) in Oldenburg has been engulfed in an anti-Israel scandal this week because of its September publication of an article calling for a total boycott of Israel.

The GEW member and teacher Christoph Glanz , who authored the pro-BDS article,  faced sharp criticism  from the Social Democratic party MP Michaela Engelmeier.

She confirmed to the Post on Thursday that her tweet criticizing a GEW member for racism and anti-Semitism was directed at Glanz.

Engelmeier tweeted this week that “she is pleased that the GEW Oldenburg distanced itself from the anti-Semitism and racism of one its members with a clarification.“

However, the GEW walked back its clarification condemning BDS on Wednesday evening. The GEW posted an apparent defense of the boycott Israel article stating, the GEW “rejects the contentions that it published an anti-Israel or hostile to Israel article“ in its membership magazine.



The GEW scrubbed its website of a Monday apology for publishing the BDS article.

The GEW website was offline on Thursday. The chairman of the GEW in Oldenburg Heinz Bührmann told the Post by mobile phone today that the union will publish a new statement Thursday evening—it’s fourth since last week—on the allegations of labor union-animated Jew-hatred. He told the Post that statement will reject BDS.

“I expect and demand that the GEW Oldenburg distances itself and condemns every form of anti-Semitism and BDS,“ Engelmeier told the Post regarding the GEW’s walkback of its Monday posting.

Speaking from Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter, told the Post  “that it is pathetic that the teachers’ union, an ostensibly respectful institution and responsible for the education of the children of Oldenburg ,cannot recognize anti-Semitism when it is staring them in the face. The refusal to criticize people—in this case Christoph Glanz—who spouts anti-Semitism and lies about Israel is a moral failure with terrible practical consequences."

Glanz, who uses the name Christopher Ben Kush on his Twitter feed, said, "Israel´s government is a racist freak show.“ He also accused Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

The Post's emails and telephone calls to Glanz on Thursday were not immediately returned. He has previously said the allegation of anti-Semitism against him is “absurd.“

In an email to the Post about the charges of anti-Semitism leveled against Glanz, Bianca Schöneich, a spokeswoman for the state of  Lower Saxony's public school agency, where Oldenburg is located, wrote on Tuesday that the state education agency “takes the allegations very seriously and is examining them“

Schöneich wrote that teachers are civil servants and, in general, are supposed to be“politically neutral.“

German Civil Service law prescribes neutrality for teachers.

Israel’s embassy told the Post on Thursday the embassy “is aware of the new incidents“ in connection with the GEW Oldenburg website.

Israel’s embassy told the Post last week the GEW is an important German institution so it was “surprised and disappointed” that the Oldenburg chapter chose to republish the pamphlet of a BDS activist in its magazine.

“We rely on the moral values and intellectual capabilities of readers of the magazine to correctly classify the pamphlet, but we still expect the magazine to show better editorial standards,” the embassy said.

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